Let me first say: I know it’s exhausting when the person covering a show really dislikes the show. And I’m sorry Scandal has gone that way. I really am. But if it helps, I do at least find it fascinating how far this show has plummeted, in addition to finding it frustrating, so… I guess let’s just continue to hold each other. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, if indeed it ever gets better.
We open on Abby sitting in front of a green-screen so that someone can turn L.A. into Washington, D.C. Were you aware that this show, which features the president, takes place in our nation’s capital? Somehow, yes, this has not escaped anyone. Was it this one shot that really tipped you off? No. So I think maybe they need to stop being so slavish with this stuff, because you can see the special effect so clearly around her hair that she might as well be a colorform of herself.
She is waiting, coffee in hand, for Olivia. The two of them must have a standing caffeine date. How long has Olivia been gone, that she’s only just noticing? I think this storyline might have been more effective for me if the show played on how many days missing she is. The problem being, in the last two episodes, I think they have played it so unrealistically with the timeline that they basically CAN’T talk about it.
Olivia isn’t answering her phone, and her mailbox is full, so Abby uses her key to get into Olivia’s house. She sees the Red Wine Stain of Doom, taunting her, making a mockery of the tub of OxyClean that’s probably sitting under the skin just waiting to be used. Jake Ballard is going to be in SO MUCH TROUBLE for not handling this. I hope this is the final straw that pushes Olivia out of his bed: “If you don’t understand how deeply a winesplash cuts me then YOU UNDERSTAND NOTHING. Go stand in the shade.”
Abby gingerly tells Fitz that she’s worried, and then it’s implied that his response is to tell her the whole story, because she next storms into OPA and breaks off a piece of her mind and hurls it into Huck’s panting face. She’s pissed that nobody told her so she could help, and Huck’s cold response is, “You’re not a Gladiator anymore.” That is as bitchy and cliquey a thing as he could say. Also, Abby, look at who the Gladiators are: a psychotic nose-breather with bloodlust, and a woman who, it cannot be stressed enough, KNEW ALL THAT AND SLEPT WITH HIM ANYWAY. Don’t Gladiate with these dipshits, Abby. I like Darby Stanchfield a lot, but there’s a moment here that makes me a little nuts, wherein the force of Huck’s rejection actually bodily hits her and she staggers backward. It feels very much like we’re suddenly in a play and she’s playing to the rafters.
Speaking of the rafters, I would like to break off one of them and then wallop Fitz in the ribs with it:
Now that Olivia is no longer Hostage: Original Flavor, Fitz can speak openly and act decisively. He signs an order dismissing the entire secret service, and invites Jake Ballard over for popcorn and a screening of the Taken trilogy, after which he will turn earnestly to Jake and say, “Make me Liam Neeson.”
Then, Fitz convenes all the Fancy People in the war room and discusses how to get Olivia back. His big idea, I shit you not, is to enter the United States into the auction. Fitz wants to USE AMERICAN DOLLARS TO BUY HIS GIRLFRIEND. And he might even be willing to collude with terrorists to enter the auction, specifically so that he doesn’t have to negotiate with terrorists to get her returned. This is EXTREMELY specious logic and a completely moronic use of resources.
I mean, when HUCK side-eyes your decision-making — HUCK, who climaxes from boring holes into people’s bodies — then you should stop being president. Immediately. I say that a lot about this show, actually. Huck is horrifying ninety percent of the time, but then suddenly they will make him the lone voice of reason, and you feel extremely dirty about how you want to high-five him for telling these asswagons what’s what.
Jake decides they need to enter the auction, covertly, themselves. Doing the same thing Fitz is doing, except not with taxpayer dollars. In fact, they’ll use B-Contrivance dollars, because Huck reveals that when they blew up the organization, he transferred all the money to himself as back pay for all that time in the Torture Hole. He has $2.4 billion socked away. And he can’t use ANY OF THAT on therapy? Also, what of his child, who last saw Huck killing someone with shards of glass? And didn’t he give his irritating wife all the files that explain where he’s been and that he’s telling the truth? Is he laying off that for a while because she’s a slow reader?
I would like to make fun of Human Auction Coundown Clock 1.0, but honestly, the last time I bought a person on the open market it looked EXACTLY like this.
Liv is playing her part to the hilt, having smug conversations with Ian — in front of his DOUBTFUL underling (one of the ones I thought she killed in “Run” but who she actually just knocked out with a pipe) — about how there’s no way she will go for less than a billion, or even a billion-five. He’s so excited that they toast with Champagne, and he generously offers to let her choose between the final few bidders so that she gives herself the best chance of not having her brains blown like tumbleweeds across somebody’s lawn.
Unfortunately, Ian’s brains are then deposited on Olivia’s face, because his Doubtful Underling is sick of all this, and Olivia hasn’t been in peril — nor called a bitch — for nearly five minutes. An eternity in Scandal time.
So Underling then gets predatory with her and starts rubbing his fingers all over her mouth, so that she can say, “I’m in shock. Put anything that close to my mouth and I might bite it off.” Underling lets her go and then salivates over how much money she’s commanding at the auction.
Per sheBay.com, it’s already up to $372 million, and Evil Dr. Pork Chop leads the bidding. It would appear my nephew is in second, and then Russia, because we’re back to where we can use them in TV and movies again. Don’t be cheap, Russia. My nephew isn’t even old enough to have a job, and he’s coughing up $368 million and counting.
Oh, and Jon Tenney is refusing to sign Fitz’s executive order to oust him — he will, theoretically, resign and falsely cite health issues — because frankly, he doesn’t want to quit. He threatens to tell the world that Fitz started a war over a lady’s vagina. I suppose we should have seen this coming, by the way, because Ex-Agent Tom kept leering at Olivia and likening her to Helen of Troy, and Scandal is about as subtle as Huck.
Cyrus then goes to Portia de Rossi, and blackmails HER into testifying that Jon Tenney faked the attempt on his life, because Fitz points out that he can claim THAT is the reason he went to war. Cyrus also calls Portia “bitch” about three times, because the undercurrents of misogyny on this show needed more heft.
This is one of those episodes where you’re dragged along a very long journey, only to have the point be moot, Rick Springfield-style, at the end. It begins with Jake and Quinn making David Rosen take them to see Maya Pope, because she can get them in league with some major terrorists who will get them into the sheBay.com auction, but presumably will still fork over Olivia at the end of it and not keep her for their own ends. Maya resists and makes a lot of demands, until Quinn finally suggests putting a TV outside her cell and giving her the remote so she can watch it. Maya Pope ate her own wrist. You think she can’t MacGyver a TV remote into a weapon of mass destruction? Come on. But David agrees, and so Maya guides Jake and Huck through an operation that involves killing a bunch of people so that her terrorist friend will owe her one. (Quinn has hustled David Rosen out of the room to “cool off” so that he has no idea the plan involves actual murder.)
It will shock the hell out of you which cast member agrees to do the murdering.
I’m certain you can’t predict where this is going to go, either. This is like throwing Christian Grey into a room full of whips and asking him to select only one and apply it thrice very lightly before leaving. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Jake waits and waits for Huck to reappear, then decides he’s been gone too long to be alive, and follows him into the place where their victims were to have been killed:
Once again, I’m forced to wonder if Scandal is developing a show-wide policy that everyone’s eyes cannot be open any less than 200 percent in moments of stress. And this is fairly stressful:
Can we please discuss the prop there? That’s supposed to be a severed arm lying there. It looks like a chair leg with fingers.
Naturally, Jake is a wee alarmed that he’s walked into Huck’s private fetish chamber, where it is Fifty Shades of Goo. Talk about a Red Room, y’all. And Huck reacts to this interruption as you would if someone walked in on you pleasuring yourself to the Xanadu soundtrack, or something. There is guilt and shame and some residual arousal. It’s the dumbest thing ever, and Exhibit AAA for why Huck shouldn’t be anywhere near the human race. I’m starting to have sympathy for Rowan for putting him in the torture hole. We have seriously gotten to the point with this character where I YEARN FOR HIM TO GET THROWN IN A TORTURE HOLE SOME MORE.
“WE HAAAVE TO CUT OFFFF THEIR HEEEEADS,” Huck huffs and puffs in the most excruciating line delivery of the episode. Jake agrees with him, though; apparently the terrorist they’re doing this for will want severed heads as proof. So Jake sends Huck off to clean himself up, tsking, “What would Olivia say?” Well, I hope Olivia would say, “You’re demented and so I’m letting you go and moving you to a dark corner of the Yukon Territory.” Then Jake mutters under his breath that Huck is an animal, before calmly commencing sawing off the head of one of the dead. That line doesn’t feel true to Jake, as if it was just thrown in there because someone got the giggles at the idea of Jake being all disgusted by Huck’s depravity before then committing some himself. Har, har. Jake is the person who shot James in the back, by the way. He’s not going to be clutching his pearls over this. He might worry about Huck’s mental state, but that’s about it. Also, what are they going to do with the rest of the place, which is teeming with Huck’s DNA, and also a lot of body parts? They should call Annalise Keating’s students and have them set it on fire.
Abby takes a moment to unload on David Rosen because he didn’t tell her about Liv, either. Abby haltingly emotes that she has no friends at all in the world except for Liv, and so even if David thinks she doesn’t have a professional right to know, she certainly had a personal one. David doesn’t agree, but tolerates her outburst, and then hands her a drink and reminds her that she does have a friend. Is Abby still having sex with Paul Adelstein? That is seriously a more important question to me than any of this nonsense about who is buying Olivia to go on that new marble pedestal in the family room.
Jon Tenney takes one more stab at blackmail to save his job: He tells Mellie that if he’s forced to resign, he will tell everyone that the First Lady had an affair with a treasonous man who faked his own assassination attempt, and it will ruin everything. Mellie shakes her head at him and marvels that Fitz chose him for his loyalty. “That’s the same reason he chose you,” Jon says, pointedly, as if to imply Fitz wanted in her a lapdog and not a lover. Mellie doesn’t seem all that hurt by this — to me, her reactions in this scene seem more about her delusions about Jon being pierced than about him getting under her skin. I was really hoping Mellie would tell him to shove his blackmail up his face holes, but instead she has a conversation with Fitz about it.
It’s a nice scene, actually, practically brimming with affection. Mellie tells Fitz that she has to ask him to let Jon Tenney off the hook, because he will expose her affair, and America won’t forgive it because it’s sexist about stuff like that (which I think is true actually, to some extent; I think charismatic male leaders get a pass that would not be afforded to a woman, and although right NOW I think America would be equally pissed at Barack or Michelle Obama for an indiscretion, I think Barack would be able to shake it off long-term and Michelle would not). Fitz seems to agree with her a little, and the two reflect on that for a second until Mellie asks Fitz what he wants more than anything in the world. His answer is, “Jerry. Alive.” She seems genuinely touched by this, before amending that she’d like to know what he wants that is physically possible to get. For this one, his answer is Liv, and Mellie snuggles up to him supportively and promises they will get her back. And of course, Fitz reciprocates the question. As she wanted him to do. She gulps down her drink and wrestles with her nerves before saying, “I want to be President of the United States.” She wants to change the world. Fitz looks deeply at her for a second, before nodding supportively and saying that, well, they’d better let Jon Tenney stick around, then. And I have to say, I liked Fitz for that. Mellie becoming president would be, what… an eight-year plan, if she follows the Hillary Clinton plan? That’s a long time for him to put off Vermont — assuming he would stay with Mellie, which I assume would be part of it — and instead of whining and complaining, he appears not only to admire Mellie’s ambition but also endorse it. Right now, this puts him ahead of Jake in the Slightly Less The Worst stakes, because Jake always wants Olivia to leave behind her brain and just let him have sex with her. Don’t worry, though, Fitz is about to become The Worst again.
I genuinely don’t know what this face was for, but it hardly matters. OH! Wait. I do remember. Right when Team Dismemberment logs into sheBay.com and gets ready to bid, the auction abruptly shuts down. No more Deep Dark Internet Sale, no chance for them even to bid. An entire subplot, erased. (Well, possibly Maya Pope getting a TV will pay off down the road, like say when she becomes obsessed with Tiny House Hunters and ends up going on it herself because it turns out she really likes having a confining space.)
Oh, and Jake tells Quinn that he’s concerned Huck has gone to a point of no return. Quinn is like, “Nah, he’s good.” Jake begins to tell her that Huck did unspeakable things, but again, Quinn is like, “Eh, he always does that, and eventually he stops and he’s fine. Just relax.” I think Quinn needs a Get-A-Grip Friend so that she can be Huck’s Get-A-Grip Friend.
Olivia tried hard to talk her way out; she laid a whole big pitch on the two techies running the auction, telling them that if they just faked a bid and tipped the auction toward that, which would let her go free, she could protect them and set them up for life. She also tries the whole “you had dreams” gambit. But she misread the room. The two genial guys, as it turns out, want money more than they ever wanted normal lives. So they tell her to get stuffed, and then Underling calls off the auction and tells Liv that he sold her to Iran. Because he wants her to be miserable, and also, they paid cash up front or something. I don’t know. It’s all boilerplate eeeeevil stuff, although I did expect him to turn around and shoot his cohorts so that he didn’t have to split the kitty, and yet he doesn’t. WE’LL SEE. As you can imagine, Liv isn’t thrilled with this development, but honestly, what answer WOULD she have been cool with? It’s not like she’s sitting there thinking, “Shit. I was really rooting for Egypt because the food is good.”
This is the marvelous facial expression of Fitz’s CIA chief, who has just finished telling Mr. President that Olivia is essentially an asset. She has high-level knowledge of the intricacies of his government, and everything inside her head is of dangerous value to their enemies. And the policy in those situations is to neutralize the asset rather than negotiate or risk torture. The REASON this tremendous American hero is making a supreme WTF face is because Fitz has insisted that they will not neutralize the asset, but rather rescue her and/or do whatever it takes to bring her home. This is very noble from a boyfriend perspective, but CRAP POLICY from the president. What frustrates me about it is that the show clearly agrees with Fitz, because later, Fitz is pouting and Cyrus essentially says, “She can shove it. You were right.” NO HE WAS NOT. Look, I’m not in support of killing people, but… choosing Olivia over national security is a completely unacceptable call to make in Fitz’s position and it’s SO IDIOTIC TO ME that the show is pandering to his point of view. The ONLY REASON anyone is behaving this way is because Olivia is the main character on a TV show and the TV show can’t exist without her until such time as Kerry Washington stops wanting to work in a festering sinkhole. I know TV is TV, and real life is real life, but on a show like this it’s distracting when it gives itself over SO FULLY to logic that ONLY makes sense because you can’t kill off the lead.
And in case we missed the gravity of Liv’s situation, Huck delineates for Quinn and Jake that Olivia Pope is dead. It doesn’t matter who she was sold to from under their noses — she will be slowly tortured and hacked to bits in exchange for favors from Fitz, until she is a quivering lump of pulpy flesh and Fitz forgets that he ever loved her. Olivia Pope is dead. Olivia Pope Is Dead. Huck is correct that her situation is problematic, but the breathy, shrill delivery makes me want to punch him in the ear. Fortunately, Quinn takes care of that for me. He can pull out her teeth, he can cut off people’s chair-legs-with-fingers, he can jab them with ice picks, he cam commit unspeakable crimes against the flesh… but discussing the plight of Olivia Pope is A BRIDGE TOO FAR.
Apparently Mellie has been greeting every plane that returns with the bodies of the dead from the Great War of West Andrea Zuckerman, which presumably is over now? Is it? I had assumed Fitz was extracting himself, but maybe not. Also, I suppose it’s not as easy as snapping his fingers and calling everyone home, so … as you were. Anyway, Mellie gets weepy and hugs the widow and her child.
And Olivia is delivered to her new owners. At least she gets a nice coat? I admit, I am hoping that “Iran” turns out to be a false front for someone more interesting. No offense, Iran. I’m sure you are plenty interesting, but I just can’t take another week of Olivia Pope Is Dead, or Olivia Pope Is In Peril, or Olivia Pope Does Not Even Have Her Wine Cardigan Anymore.